3 Team Building Ideas to Kick Off the New Semester

Higher Ed Leadership Series

We’re kicking off a new semester, and you know what that means… the dreaded team building “ice breakers.”

Jokes aside, welcoming back your team members and onboarding new hires is an important part of your role as a leader, and it sets the tone for the entire year. Especially if you are new to your role, it is essential that you cultivate a positive work environment from day one.

More often than not, leaders that take the time in the beginning to build relationships with their team members will have greater success in leading the group. Doing this well means you’re equipping yourself with a productive, motivated, and engaged team.

Here are 3 team building activities to set your team up for success in the new semester:

1) Engagement Builders

Ok, let’s be real – this is just a fancier name for ice breakers. But these serve a dual purpose. On one hand, you allow your team members to interact and get to know one another better. On the other hand, you’re able to gather valuable information about your team members.

My favorite activity is one I call “What do you love?” Go around to each team member, set a 30 second timer, and have them list out things they love. They’ll likely name music, books, and TV shows they love, things they love doing, places they love to visit, their favorite restaurants, etc.

Be sure to take notes – you can use this information in the future to send them a birthday gift or reward them for a job well done!

2) Social Events

Hosting social events outside of work can be a great way for team members to get to know each other on a more personal level, without the pressures and formalities of a professional setting. Another advantage of social events is that you can incorporate games and activities that help foster teamwork skills.

Here are a few ideas for some fun team outings:

  • Happy Hour*
  • Cookout / BBQ
  • Scavenger Hunt*
  • Escape Room*
  • Volunteering
  • Bowling
  • Trivia*

*These activities can be done in-person or virtually.

3) Office Hours

As a leader, it’s important that you make yourself available to your team members, especially in the beginning of the year. At this time, they may have questions or concerns about what’s expected of them. Set regular office hours and be sure to clearly communicate these times to your team, letting them know that you are available to discuss anything that is on their mind.

Bonus Tip: If you’re brand new in your leadership role, it’s important that you make an effort to get to know each of your team members individually. Make a point to meet with each team member one-on-one and get to know them, both professionally and personally.

While you don’t necessarily have to ask everyone to say a fun fact about themselves, investing time to build rapport with your team members will pay off in the long run.

For more team-building ideas, check out our blog post about 4 Ways to Spend More Quality Time With Your Team, as well as this article from teambuilding.com.

Are you looking for additional resources to help you navigate senior leadership in higher ed? Download our free University Leadership Roadmap: 7 Steps to Jumpstart Your Leadership Journey for Women of Color in Higher Ed.

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